Compact Car Best Buy of 2019
- Expansive list of standard safety equipment
- Fun to drive and comfortable
- Wide range of trim levels, body styles and performance
- High value, strong reliability and resale
- Pricing starts at $20,345 (including $895 destination charge) | Price yours
- On sale now | See Civic models for sale near you
The Best in Class Just Got Better
When the current generation Honda Civic was chosen as our Best Buy among small cars two years ago, the universal opinion was that it delivered roominess, high-quality materials, and features expected from a class-above vehicle. None of that has changed. In fact, Honda has stepped up its game with a 2019 refresh that not only addresses some of our niggling points about the car (hello, volume knob on the infotainment system), but also takes into consideration larger issues like making the Honda Sensing suite of driver assists standard across the board. Taking these upgrades and adding them to Honda’s reputation for durability, reliability, high resale and low cost of operation, it’s easy to see why the Civic is back for the fifth time as our Compact Car Best Buy Award winner.
Midsize Comfort in a Compact Package
The Honda Civic has grown and while the hatchback version strikes some as a tad busy in its styling, the sedan is for all intents and purposes sort of a three-quarter scale Accord, which speaks a lot of about the integrity of the design. The 2019 sedan and coupe benefit from a minor facelift but the basic package remains the same, boasting a cabin that can legitimately seat five with ample headroom and legroom. In addition to great seat comfort, the Civic also has split fold-down rear seats and a large trunk that is almost Accord-like in its accommodation. And it comports itself like its bigger sibling. The ride is compliant and yet there’s enough tautness and steering feel to give the Civic a fairly high fun-to-drive quotient. The standard 158-horsepower 2.0-liter normally aspirated engine is a competitive base engine, though the 174-horsepower turbo 1.5-liter is more rewarding in its response and more efficient on the highway. Although some of us are not big fans of continuously variable transmissions, Honda has done a credible job of tuning out the elasticity on acceleration and minimizing the droning that typically goes on with these units at speed. Most buyers would be hard pressed if asked to talk about their transmission technology and the powertrain in the Civic does its work in an efficient, seamless and unobtrusive manner. Along with having linear, firm brake response, the 2019 Honda Civic is confident, well-sorted and easy to drive.
Last year, we cited the Honda Sensing driver-assist and safety features as a big plus. It includes forward-collision warning, collision-mitigation braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist as its key features. In 2018, Honda Sensing was available on all models except the base LX. Now, Honda has added it across the board, which represents tremendous peace of mind and value for budget-conscious buyers. It’s the sort of extra that you might expect on a midsize car, but is a real plus when comparing the Civic to its head-to-head rivals.
One of the big changes for 2019 is the adoption of Honda’s new Display Audio system which boasts a simpler interface that includes a volume knob. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is also another feature we love and is now standard across the board. As a bonus, the navigation system has improved graphics and 3D landmarks.
We again tested a top-line Touring model, which is competitively priced at about $28,000. The materials, soft-touch surfaces and overall fit and finish remind us of the Accord and add to the Civic’s aura of being a cut above the competition.
The Civic lineup also has a new model this year, a 2.0-liter Sport trim, while the top Touring trim adds 18-inch wheels. In addition to the coupe and sedan models, the Civic lineup also offers a series of hatchbacks from mild to wild. The top two hot hatches, the 205-horsepower Si and the 305-horsepower Type R, offer plenty of front-drive thrills without breaking the bank.
Affordability and Low-Cost Operation
The base price for the 2019 Honda Civic starts at around $20,000, while most of the more popular trim levels put the sedans in the mid-$20,000 range. There’s plenty of competition there, not only from Hyundai and Kia with their respective Elantra and Forte models, but also VW’s new Jetta, which has taken a page from the Civic playbook by offering a larger and better equipped model without significantly raising sticker prices. But as impressive as these vehicles are, Honda started from a high bar and has continued to upgrade the product.
With fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engines, an affordable sticker price, and a history of trouble-free service, the Honda Civic continues to serve up 5-Year Cost to Own numbers that are impressive. A big to key to that is the Civic’s reputation for high resale value. All-in-all, this combination of low running costs, competitive pricing and great retained value makes a solid case for the 2019 Honda Civic as the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy among compact cars.
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